In the face of a second failed levy attempt, park district commissioners have passed a 2012 budget that sustains existing programs but has little money for grants and construction projects.
Northwest Park and Recreation District 2 commissioners unanimously approved the district’s 2012 budget at their meeting February 21. Park commission president Ted Morris said they focused on maintaining district programs, such as ballroom dancing lessons, because they help pay for themselves.
“We might have a bare-bones budget, but we can still run programs,” Morris said.
Commissioners agreed upon a $100,043 budget for 2012, with approximately 38.5 percent of that amount paying for the district’s two paid staff positions. The district will also spend about $7,000 on recreational equipment and programs for 2012.
The 2012 budget only includes enough money to maintain the Birch Bay activity center at Bay Horizon park and includes no funds for future capital improvements, such as playground equipment. District commissioners expect to bring in about $12,000 in program revenue for 2012.
The area taking the biggest hit in 2012 is the district’s support of community programs, such as Blaine youth baseball and the Blaine senior center.
If requested, commissioners agreed to grant $1,000 to Blaine youth baseball this year, down from $1,500 in 2011. The district granted $5,000 to the Blaine senior center in 2011 but will be unable to give the center any money in 2012.
District commission treasurer Doug Robertson said a large chunk of the district’s budget, approximately $38,000, has been pledged to eventual trail construction in both Blaine and Birch Bay. District commissioners had previously agreed to give $20,000 to the city for help in building a walking and biking trail along a stretch of Peace Portal Drive and set aside approximately $19,000 for rights-of-way acquisition for an eventual trail between Birch Bay and Blaine. Robertson said these pledges must be kept and cannot be excised from the budget.
Despite the budget’s austerity, commissioners agreed maintaing programs for the local communities was most important. District commissioner Richard Sturgill said maintaining programs will be the best way to continually spread
the word about the district and lay the groundwork for community support of a future levy.
The levy that appeared on the November 2011 ballot would have raised about $350,000 over the next six years and cost 10 cents per $1,000 of a property’s assessed value, or $20 on a $200,000 home. Voters supported the levy with 56.7 percent of the vote, but such measures need 60 percent or more to pass.
For more information on the district’s programs, visit www.nwparkandrec.org.